Ho 19 Project Blog
In May 2016 JWT received a longterm licence to research and document Hohlgangsanlage 19 (cave installation 19). Ho19 was a German tunnel complex built during the Second World War. We think, from the work done below + input from guests, Ho19 was designed for multiple uses and was probably never going to be completely lined. At this point in our research the original German plans have not been found, either been destroyed or are in the hands of a private collector, so we are using our standard research strategy of reverse engineering to build a picture of what it was.
Main ideas for use below:
- Fortress strength storage for munitions
- Fortress strength storage for naval equipment
- One of the galleries is a potential site for a large reserve fuel tank
- Site for emergency generators to power the harbour, incase of loss of the power stations
If you are new to our Ho19 Blog you may want to start at the bottom of the page and work your way up. If you would like to support our projects please think about becoming a member.
20th October 2016
We have now started a catalogue page to share with you the finds in the tunnel. We will link this in to a map of where we have found them within the tunnel soon.
Ho19 Project Catalogue
16th October 2016
Following on from the last post on the 14th, it seems three German construction firms worked on the tunnel (Information from Michael Ginns MBE).
In 1943 Firma Richert (German) worked on H019, they were then replaced by Hellenbart (Germany) later in that year. In November 1943 there were concerns that the Military Traffic above the tunnel would cause a collapse. The company Theodore Elsche were employed to instal cement lining into the entrance of Ho19.
This is a probably a good time to share the tunnel timeline as we know it:
26/05/1943 Leslie Sinel records in his diary that blasting has started on a tunnel complex under Mount Bingham
18/11/1943 OT requests the closing of the road on Mount Bingham for work to be carried out (lining of entrance)
December 1943 Road is closed for the lining of Ho19, this work can be seen on the RAF photo below.
7/4/1944 Spaniard Luis Nell dies working in Tunnel (memorial stone)
14/05/1944 Electric work is in progress in tunnel C to install lights (Date mark in cement for the light fittings)
The tunnel was still being worked on well after the main removal of slave and forced labours in late 43. We think the tunnel was actively used by the Naval forces after May 44. It seems logical that Ho19 it was used for the storage of equipment as it had been wired for lights, ventilation installed and location markers added in multiple places. It also explains why we are finding traces of equipment in there, like the reel of armoured cable.
14th October 2016
Over the past month we have discovered three sets of initials in the tunnel, we think they read:
We are going to research to see if we can link back to any listed workers, and also cross reference against the German construction firms as it is a possibility its a mark by them.
11th October 2016
The German markings in the tunnel is very obvious and below are a small selection of the types we see. We think the big black rectangles would have been used like chalk boards. The circle and inner dot are potential drilling marks or identification marks for areas in the tunnel. The red numbers we are not sure on. The tunnel walls are caked in a layer of dirt, as this dispenses we are sure much more will be found.
6th October 2016
Some more tunnel graffiti has been found in part of the deepest tunnel at about 128 meters in. The first one seems to be France written on the wall. Potentially from one of the French North African forced workers.
The second is not as clear and says potentially Grenada, did a Grenadian end up being forced to work ? Some joined and fought for the RAF and other arms of the British military, potentially they were captured and held with the North Africans. Just below that inscription is the year 1912, if this is their year of birth they would have been 32. Any ideas more than welcome.
The last photo shows scratching in the rock, in the same area, which may have been counting.
We will soon have a map for you folks to track where we find stuff.
4th October 2016
Let there be light! from the funds raised on our tours we have invested in a network of tunnel lights to help aid the documentation. We have not quite got enough for all of the tunnel but we hope to be there by the end of the year. If you are looking for ways to help us buying a membership is a great way!
29th September 2016
A look at one of the tunnels blastholes, this one measures 1.6m. We find loads of small ones, which are left after the explosion, but this one is a deep one. This is quite rare in the tunnel, well we say that now but as the research grows we may find more.
22nd September 2016
Potential site of a bullet impact, an eager eyed guest, spotted this!
16th September 2016
Back to the map! So first off big thanks goes out to Harry Tucker, Harry did some excellent research and realised it is not “home” written beneath cafe on the map it was actually “Heinze” making Cafe Heinze. Cafe Heinze was a very popular spot on Reeperbahn however it did not survive the allied bombing of Hamburg. Looking at the RAF photos we can see remains of the cafe on the map. This truly is a great bit of detective work and it adds some weight to this map being drawn during the occupation.
If you have facts or information about HO19 please share it with us as it really helps our work documenting the tunnel. And we love to be given alternative ideas an corrections to work we submit online. We strongly believe in our website being a live database meaning we can make changes and updates frequently, unlike a book that remains in its original state.
8th September 2016
So on Thursday we found some suspected unexploded ordnance in the tunnel, a phone call to Stuart (Ordinance Disposal Officer) at police hq and he popped down to assess. What we had found were plugs or caps that are put in to the end of drill holes, the holes would have been filled with nitroglycerin. Our suspicion became increased when we noticed small wires coming out the side. Luckily for us the holes were dry and not packed. Stuart told us he was responsible for clearing a similar setup in Ho8 (Jersey War Tunnels) and many of the holes there were still packed with nitroglycerin! All plugs were safely removed from Ho19 that night with Kimberley and I learning an awful lot while helping Stuart do his thing.
A massive thanks goes out to the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Officer Stuart Elliot of the States of Jersey Police. WWII Sites in Jersey always have the risk of unexploded ordinance being found, if you find or see anything suspicious please contact the police on 01534 612612. They have a page on what to do here.
7th September 2016
We found a strange pile of what looks like leftovers from a lathe machine. it was found at the end of the longest part of the tunnel which was a strange place to dump it. Simon who visited us on the 7th has provided the most plausible answer so far. It may well be the shield or armour from a reel of armoured cable. We already think that the tunnel was used for storage at the very late stages of the war and have already found some parts from bunkers etc. So chances are this reel had its cable pinched post war and all that is left is its armouring shield.
September 3rd 2016
Below is a newly found date marker in the tunnel, most likely from the electrician as it is found behind the boards used to hold the lights. It says JC LE 14/5/44. Big thanks to Daniel who spotted it.
August 30th 2016
We are drawing blanks on the date stone below, we think it reads LUIS A NELL 9 -1923 (or 28) ESPANA 7-4-44. Obviously the records of forced labours is not really that good and we have checked against the list of forced workers who sadly lost their lives and there is no match. We think this could be a memorial marker perhaps for Luis who died in the tunnel at avery young age. The photo does not come out to good due to the damp and the light.
August 20th 2016
From our research in the national archives we found the below. It is an extract from an US Army interview with Oberst Rudolf Graf von Schmettow, commander of the Channel Islands (27 September 1940-20 October 1941 & 1 September 1943-28 February 1945) in which he mentions the Tunnels.
"The geological structure of the islands, which are known to consist of solid rocks reaching 140 meters undersea level, made it possible to build cave-like underground systems on a large scale almost everywhere on the islands.
Thus, especially in the interior parts of the islands, very strong , reinforced underground installations, which were distributed according to tactical view points, could be built for housing or assembling reserves. They offered very strong protection from ship based artillery fire and aerial bombs.
They were frequently lying under 20-30 meters of natural rocks, situated in deep valleys they could not be recognised from the air.
The entrances were prepared for defence.
The spoil obtained by mining made it possible to transport less construction material by sea, needed on very large quantities for fortress construction, road building (approach roads).
Most of the caves were built with a large profile, they had mostly 2-3 entrances permitting close columns eg for ammunition supply, to enter and leave.
Their inside was improved with concrete, light, water pipes and ventilators were laid as well as drainage systems, where ever necessary so that dry housing and storing of ammunition and supplies was possible.
The value of underground installations was first recognised on Jersey, there they were began first and perfected to the greatest extent.
The planned system could not fully be accomplished, especially on Guernsey and Alderney, for various reason, such as the lack of special apparatus and equipment as well as fuel, and also because the rock construction and mining companies had to leave in 1943. Netherltheless it was possible to complete on Guernsey and Jersey the modern hospitals and to make use of them, and also to store most of the ammunition and other supplies as well as to make it possible for the reserves to assemble there."
August 15th 2016
We have received quite a few photos of the area around the tunnel, including one of the OT railway bridge you can see on the RAF photo below. We will share all we receive so please send them to email@example.com
August the 9th 2016
So the August dry out continues! we have had no more major water flooding and we will so be in a good position to start more documenting of the tunnels. below is an RAF aerial photo from Feb 1945 and you can clearly both HO19 and The OT Railway Tunnel
August 5th 2016
Below is a post war map of the OT railway tunnel, with a small bit of the HO19. If by any chance you have a map of Ho19 or have ever worked in here we would love to hear from you.
July 25th 2016
We are letting the tunnel dry after clearing the water out. So sorry for the slow down on posts. On the down time we are focusing on the research and looking for maps and any wartime documents. Below is a German map from 43 showing the tunnel under construction.
July 18th 2016
Below is our first 360 Video from the main lined entrance
Test of a 360 #theta360 #theta360uk - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
15th July 2016
Posible Date Marking 5.1.44 ?
Took us a while to see this as we read it at first as S.144 Then after seeing it day in and day out we think its a 5 and makes the 5th of January 1944.
July 9th 2016
Photo update below, but yup we are still bailing out the water, but the progress is good and we are keeping the main tunnel dry.
Thursday 30th of June
Below is a great now and then picture, as you can see we are wining the war on the flooding
Tuesday 28th of June
Finally seeing some progress with the water removal, last night was the first time the main tunnel did not refill with water! Our hard work is really paying off and both of us just wanted to say thanks to our partners, Luke and Sarah for supporting us with all our tunnel absences.
June 27th 2016
And back to the map.
We were very lucky that a German speaker passed by and asked to come in and have a look. We obliged and he soon helped spot something on the Map painted on the wall. He confirmed it was indeed Reeperbahn, he knew it very well, and also that below the cafe wording was the word home, heim in German. We as yet can not prove this was a war time painting, but the gentlemen did know the area well and believed the drawing must be of war time age as the allied bombing changed the layout of this street. The building named home was not there in the 50’s. We noticed with the RAF recon we had the area had been badly damaged from bombing, so this goes a long way to suggest this is indeed a war time painting. The German who drew this in 43 would have not known that a year later his home would be gone and the allied soldiers were half way through France.
June the 25th
We have cleared the major water body blocking access to the two long arms of the tunnel. Set up an area to start cataloging finds and a series of sensors to log temperature and humidity. Photos of the past week below.
11th June 2016
Below is a before and after photo of a bit of the water removal. The area we believe would have been for a fuel tank for the diesel generators planed for the tunnel. We are slowly seeing the levels going down and you can see above the difference a few hours of bailing has made! But alas we do need to invest in a good pump.
June 7th 2016
So who drew the map ?
Work on the tunnel started in July 1942 by the OT (Organisation Todt) firm of “Riechert” and later in 1943 by OT firm “Hellenbart” under the command of the Naval Harbour Construction HQ, who were based at number 4 Commercial buildings. The Todt Organisation was a Third Reich civil and military engineering group named after its founder, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior Nazi figure. The organisation was responsible for a huge range of engineering projects both in pre-World War II Germany, in Germany itself and occupied territories from Jersey to the Soviet Union during the war. It was notorious for using forced labour.
We can see in the map that a cafe is clearly marked and we doubt any forced or slave labour could have draw such a big map. So we believe it to be one of the OT guards or German contractors. Potentially it could have been post war by a German POW, kept to clean up, describing his home town. Any other information on the map or theories welcome (firstname.lastname@example.org).
20th May 2016
After two weeks of bailing water out we needed a slight distraction / reward, so we investigated the map drawn on the wall. As with anything in life google quickly provided the answer. As we searched for “Reeper German” the first result back was “Reeperbahn Street in Hamburg, Germany” after a look on Apple maps it did indeed look like it could be a match. So we thought it be good to have a look at Reeperbahn during the war. Below the album shows you our results and we think it is a match, also notice the bomb damage in the RAF recon photos.
6th May 2016
Our first visit was an eye opener! We suddenly realised the scale of challenge we face. The tunnels drainage system has been blocked since the 1990’s, we dated this by the type of litter we found blocking it, causing many parts of the unlined tunnel to be flooded & needing attention. The lined tunnel areas are used by the states of Jersey and the drainage in these areas is working perfectly. As we went deeper in to the tunnel we found water levels up to 4 feet. So our first steps are to empty the water and get the drainage system working again. below are photos from the first few visits.
5th May 2016
We received a longterm licence to research and document Ho19 tunnel from the States of Jersey.
Below is a rough map we made to show the size of the tunnel and we wonder how different this may look when we finish up our work.
1st May 2016
What have we got our selfs in to now….. After seeing the below photos of Ho19 kindly provided by Graeme Delanoe we decided we wanted to document this tunnel and make something for future generations to refer too.